If you are anything like me, you would do anything to get rid of your unsightly stretch marks…
Whilst they aren’t harmful in anyway, they are certainly no fun to look at. My tummy was once a slim & toned sight to behold… then I became a mama!
These lines are caused by hormonal changes in the body as well as rapid increases in size and weight. This ensures almost all pregnant women will experience them to some extent. However stretch marks aren’t exclusive to us child bearers. They can just as easily develop by anyone going through the following:
- On-set of puberty
- Sudden & rapid weight gain (Bodybuilding etc)
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medicines
- Has a genetic predisposition to stretch marks
The cause of skin cavity creation is however, always the same under any of the above conditions. They form due to a reduction in the amount of collagen compounds within the dermis layer of the skin. Combined with excessive stress/stretching (through size gain) above & beyond the skins natural ability to grow & adapt.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is the key building block for our connective tissues (ligaments & tendons) as well as our hair, nails & skin. It binds skin cells together within the dermis layer, to give the skin its flexible & supple properties. Collagen functions a lot like the framework of a building, it provides the rigid support structures to prevent it from falling apart.
Collagen actually accounts for around 30% of the total protein in the body. It’s important stuff! With regards to the skin, the dermis layer is made up of over 70% collagen fiber structures. These filaments are imperative for maintaining the elastic nature of the skin. You can check this yourself by pressing on an area of your skin, & see how fast it bounces back into shape.
The amount of collagen within the body will naturally decrease with age, leading to stretch marks & wrinkled skin. Collagen production slows rapidly in our mid-late 20’s, until we hit 30. Then its a downward slope, as total collagen levels drop 1%-2% a year from here on out. If only we could maintain that flawless & youthful teenage look forever!
It’s also no secret that child birth can drain us of vital nutrients, making it harder to produce collagen naturally at this time. The body will funnel these vitamins and minerals to the growing baby, meaning our own hair, nails & skin can suffer. My hair has never quite been the same…
Why Is Collagen So Vital For Stretch Mark Reduction?
The less collagen in the skin, the greater chance of developing stretch marks – It’s that simple. When the amount gets too low, it can cause the collagen fiber structures within the dermis layer to rupture. This is essentially what is causing the skin to tear and form the discolored lines and lesion on the surface.
It goes without saying that maintaining enough collagen in the body is vital to preventing & repairing unwanted skin blemishes. Like any unwanted physical occurrence or bodily aliment we will experience in life. Prevention is always the best measure! Stretch marks are no different…
To get a head start on this, check out my:
You can do very well by simply increasing the overall moisture level & quality of your skin. Some of these suggested techniques have inherent collagen production properties to boot, further aiding with the skin scarring prevention & reduction effort.
However, for those wanting the most specific collagen boosting treatments around. As promised. Here they are…
5 Ways To Boost Collagen To Beat Stretch Marks
1. Vitamin A, C, E, Zinc
If collagen is the building block for healthy skin, then what are the building blocks for collagen? You got it – Vitamin A, C, E & Zinc. You have to provide the body with enough of these compounds to synthesize collagen optimally, & that starts with food and supplementation.
The standard western diet won’t do here. You need to be consuming 12-15 portions of fresh fruits & veggies a day, to get anywhere close to meeting these requirements!
Others may want to do it through vitamin capsules. Contrary to what you may have heard, you do not need to mega dose these nutrients to produce the increase in collagen production you need. Just meeting the suggested RDA’s is fine.
Vitamin A, C, E & Zinc not only play a vital role in collagen production, but also promote general tissue protection. They will improve the moisture, maintenance & repair of every cell in your body. Skin, bones, eyes, hair & nails will all benefit, so there is really no downside to considerably upping your intake of these awesome nutrients.
2. Collagen Injections For Stretch Marks
Collagen injections are a very efficient way to significantly boost localized collagen levels within the skin. They are used to treat an array of skin conditions, stretch marks included. They work by injecting fresh collagen directly into the blemish or lesion within the skin. It’s a highly effective treatment as the procedure addresses the collagen deficiency directly.
Skin will instantly appear more plump and vibrant. However, the only downside of using collagen injections to repair your skin cavities (apart from the pain), is that the treatment is not permanent…
Yes, the injections will give you a quick fix. They may even help jump start your natural collagen production at the injection site. If you want to see continual &lasting results though, you need to repeat the treatment every 2-3 months. Not ideal if you are on a budget, or have a fear of needles!
3. Apply Tretinoin Cream
Tretinoin creams are one of the few topical treatments proven to stimulate the production of new collagen within the skin. Much like injections however, this treatment does come with some downsides.
First of all, Tretinoin Creams can only be acquired with a doctors prescription. They are also not advised for pregnant women, as a precaution over some of the ingredients. Tretinion creams have also only been shown to be effective on stretch marks which are less than 6 weeks old…
There is one other cream which is proven to penetrate deep enough within the dermis layer of the skin to help promote collagen production (& safe for pregnant women). Keep reading to find out the details of this treatment at the end of this article.
4. Will Collagen Supplements Help For Stretch Marks?
In addition to the topical creams & increased vitamin intake, many who suffer with stretch marks will also turn to Collagen Supplementation. It may well be a good idea for busy moms (or anyone for that matter) to take some additional collagen to ensure their body & skin remain in top condition.
Collagen supplements are usually made from cow or other bovine bones. If you are like me, you may prefer the Marine Collagen products made from fish oils. These collagen supplements are typically higher quality, especially when they are wild caught & GMO free.
Just ensure you are taking a hydrolyzed brand, as in its native state, the collagen molecule is too large to be absorbed into the body when ingested. It requires the high pressure steam of the “hydrolysis” process to sufficiently break down the collagen molecule into small enough pieces for the digestive enzymes to work with (& ensure absorption into the blood stream).
Contrary to popular belief, supplementing with capsules in this way is not the same as taking a collagen drink for stretch marks. From my experience the liquid products are way less effective & do not contain nearly enough active compound to make any real difference.
5. Microdermabrasion & Laser Treatments
Microdermadrasion – Microdermabrasion therapies can be an effective method for treating skin abnormalities. The process works by removing the top epidermis layer via abrasion (usually dead & unhealthy cells) enabling new skin cells and collagen to regrow in its place. This can be quite a painful one for the stretch mark newbie…
Pulsed Dye Laser Treatment – This treatment uses specialized pulsed dye laser beans (at specific wavelengths) to rapidly treat impurity lines by promoting the production of new collagen cells within the skin. The process is nonabrasive and virtually painless, however much less effective on old or very deep lines on the body. Additionally, if you have a darker skin complexion, this technique may lead to slight discoloration.
Fractional Photothermolysis Laser Treatment – This laser technique may be considered the gold standard, as it can effectively treat old stretch marks as well as all skin tones. It works by simultaneously stimulating new collagen cells, as well as destroying old & dead ones. It does this by pinpointing only the problematic cells, increasing effectiveness whilst reducing unnecessary wounding to the skin.
How To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks For Good (All In One Treatment)
If you are searching for the most efficient treatment for your stretch marks, then I highly suggest checking out what I consider to be the best solution on the market. It combines many of the collagen boosting elements within this article, as well as a host of other general skin care and moisturizing goodies!
It is highly effective on marks more than 6 weeks old & comes at a lot less cost (& pain!) compared to the dermabrasion and laser resurfacing techniques. This was a huge plus for me & why it was a no-brainer to give it a try. I’m so glad I did.
No topical treatment will completely remove skin scarring, but you can get 70%-90% reduction with the right product (& a little effort). That makes all the difference when it comes to the summer swimwear choice!
Other Useful Stretch Mark Information: